Krakow 1984

A poem inspired by a picture seen at an exhibition in the Water Hall Birmingham in 2003


Water Hall Birmingham 2003

This half smiling woman
will never leave 1984,
chilly October in a city
I was still to know.

She sits before a window
through which light slants in
distilling darkness in corners
to which our eyes are drawn
to conjure up other darknesses
of our own.

I imagine the thoughts meshed
in her Slavic language. Perhaps,
too she had thoughts that words
could not express. I thought of
things she could not know

that, in five years’ time
I will come to Krakow and
fall in love, or, that even in the
icy stillness of her smiling moment,
three hundred miles away,
the bloody broken body
of a priest was being carted
north along potholed roads.


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